The SPH Medical EPD improves safety for Spinal positioning
CategoriesPatient Handling

Using an EPD for Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks

Most medical professionals who take part in orthopedic surgery say an epidural positioning device (EPD) significantly improves safety and comfort for patients getting a subarachnoid block and then undergoing orthopedic surgery. To better understand why they feel this way, it helps to know a little more about subarachnoid blocks and the type of orthopedic surgeries in which they are most beneficial. Using the epidural positioning chair for patient positioning during spinal blocks helps the nursing staff as well as the patient.

Why an Epidural Positioning Device Might Be Necessary Before and Even After a Subarachnoid Block

So that everyone is on the same page, a subarachnoid block, also known as a spinal block, is a general anesthesia alternative capable of producing an intense sensory, motor, and sympathetic blockade that keeps pain at bay.  The process entails injecting an anesthetic or opioid directly into the subarachnoid space via a fine needle.  These injections go into the patient’s back and leave them feeling numb from the waist down, making them ideal for orthopedic surgery involving the legs, hips, knees, and ankles.  The effects of a subarachnoid block can last from 2 to 4 hours.  That said, problems can arise when patients are left numb from the waist down after receiving a subarachnoid block injection.  To minimize the risk of patients falling when they have to transition from one location to another, medical staff will have to manually hold and support them, which requires a reasonable degree of counter pressure.  But even still, falls do happen.  And sometimes, both the patient and medical personnel end up suffering injuries as a result.

The Dangers in Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the subarachnoid block or spinal block is the most widely practiced anesthesia technique used in surgeries involving the lower extremities, including orthopedic surgeries. In 2017, around 22 million Americans underwent orthopedic surgery of some kind. By the end of 2022, a projected 28 million will have undergone orthopedic surgery, according to a Globe Newswire study. Some of the nurses and anesthesia technicians involved in these surgeries either already have or eventually will suffer injuries due to not using an EPD, with falls, back strain, or both being to blame for the vast majority of them.

How Does the EPD Help for Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks and Surgical Procedures?

First and foremost, EPDs are not limited to nurses and anesthesia technicians in a surgery department alone.  They can come in handy during post-surgery when patients are still in pain or find it difficult to move certain limbs.  Even in a surgery department, nurses and anesthesia technicians use them for non-orthopedic surgeries.  It is not uncommon to see them used before and after most surgeries involving a patient’s lower extremities.  EPDs can also come in handy in a labor and delivery unit to help move women from one location to another after childbirth, especially if they received epidural pain relief beforehand.  Whether in a surgery department, labor and delivery unit, or elsewhere in a medical setting, all EPDs work more or less the same.  They allow medical staff to position patients correctly and comfortably to facilitate cervical, thoracic and lumbar flexion.

To that end, the benefits of EPD, also known as an epidural chair, are as follows:

  • Can accommodate various patient body types
  • Can support patients weighing up to 600 lbs
  • Keeps patients who are dizzy or otherwise uncoordinated due to an epidural from falling
  • Allows nurses and other medical staff members time to tend to more pressing tasks

Bottom Line

Helping a patient get into a new position, especially when epidural pain relief is involved, can be challenging and dangerous.  Using EPDs or epidural chairs can make life easier, not to mention safer, for everyone involved.

CategoriesPatient Handling

The Use of The EPD for Patient Positioning

The use of the EPD for patient positioning during spinal blocks and other procedures

To assist in enhancing patient and staff safety, a distinguished anesthesiologist created the first Epidural Positioning Device (EPD) over two decades ago. The EPD is currently the gold standard for positioning devices used by hospital’s surgery department and surgical personnel all around the globe.

The epidural device aids in the safe positioning of patients while also lowering the risk of musculoskeletal disorders to healthcare workers.  The epidural chair is most often used to position a patient for an epidural placement.  Still, it is effective in situating patients securely for a range of medical procedures by promoting optimal lumbar, thoracic, and cervical flexion, offering several advantages for both patients and caregivers.

Manually moving and positioning patients for an epidural is usually done by having a patient lean over an unstable bedside table, stacked with pillows and a chair or stool to support their feet. A nurse or nurse assistant would first position the patient at the side of the bed or table, place their feet on a chair or stool, then bring over the bedside table that doesn’t lock, and stack pillows on the table so the patient can lean forward on the pillows. This approach is insecure and unstable since the table could move, pillows may easily slip out of place, and the set height of the chair or stool is inconvenient for certain people.  The nurse is challenged to hold onto the patient and the table so nothing moves.

On the other hand, the EPD, or Epidural Chair as it often known, has a stable lockable base. It’s adjustable to accommodate patients of all sizes.  The vertical height adjustment, foot platforms, arm rests, and face rest cushion allow each patient to be placed in the most comfortable position possible for the treatment.  The chest cushion promotes the optimal spinal flexion.  Now with the use of the EPD the patient is in a secure and safe position to avoid any movement during needle insertion,

In the past the nurse or nursing assistant would often maintain the patient’s position while supporting part of their body weight. To make matters worse, patients are anxious, unpredictable, often in pain, occasionally drugged, and may move unexpectedly, placing the nurse in danger. These extended static holds, and counter pressure tasks have been highlighted as high risk by leading hospital ergonomic teams, who have tried to rethink the Epidural and Spinal Block Placement procedures to eliminate the manual patient handling components due to the predictable nature of daily routine. The positioning device was created to address these concerns.

Benefits of the Epidural Positioning Device

  • Mitigates Risk of Complications
    There is a considerable risk of complication due to the patients’ sudden movement during spinal blocks and epidural treatments. Caregivers have been using their body and manual handling to keep the patient in the proper position for these procedures which is often unstable.  Patients are prone to moving involuntarily during the procedure which may lead to inaccurate needle placement. A solid ergonomic positioning option such as the epidural positioning device provides the spinal flexion needed and the stability required to provide a smooth and accurate procedure.
  • Eliminates Risk of Injury
    Nurses and caregivers physically position patients for epidural placements in labor and delivery units all day, every day.  Nurses also prepare patients for Spinal Blocks in preoperative settings and operating rooms.  Sonographers, or ultrasound techs, are also positioning patients in the imaging department for Thoracentesis.  In most cases, the caregiver must use their arms and body to maintain a steady grip on the table, stool, and patient during the treatment.

Assisting the patient in maintaining a flexed spinal posture puts the nurse or helper in danger of suffering a musculoskeletal injury. Hospital ergonomic experts have documented that repetitive static holds, especially with awkward body posture, may also lead to injury. This old fashioned way of doing things has resulted in predictable strains, sprains, and workplace injuries.  The EPD solves these issues and provides a standardized and efficient process that improves nursing and caregiver safety while avoiding the high risk tasks of manually holding and supporting the patient.

Improves Patient’s Comfort and Satisfaction

According to recent research, patient comfort was greatly improved when the EPD was used instead of flexion alone for pregnant women having an epidural. It was also discovered that needle placement would be easier if the patient was more comfortable.

Labor and delivery unit, general surgery, operating rooms, anesthesia, radiology, and pain management clinics are all places where EPDs are now standard. Epidurals, spinal blocks, and thoracentesis procedures are all performed using the EPD. Every medical institution must make every effort to keep patients safe and comfortable while preventing harm to nurses. EPDs put patients in the best possible position to enable the anesthesiologist to do their best work.  The Epidural Chair helps keep patients in position while the needle placement occurs by creating a solid, stable, and pleasant environment.

The device was developed to provide ideal spinal flexion and access to the lumbar, thoracic and cervical areas, but it has recently gained popularity for supporting patients during thoracentesis procedures.  The imaging department is generally involved with “thora’s” as they prepare the patient and locate the ideal spot on the rib cage to prepare for the treatment.  They have also been using the unstable bedside table for positioning and a stool.  Now with the EPD patients are easily positioned in a comfortable position to enable the pulmonologist to insert the catheter to drain excess fluid from the pleural space.

Patients benefit from the secure feeling and comfort provided by the epidural patient positioning device. When the patient is properly positioned with the EPD, the caregiver doesn’t have to rely on their arms, shoulders, and hands to keep them in the best posture for the treatment.  These advantages significantly minimize the risk of staff injuries and complications during epidurals, spinal blocks and thora’s.

Single Patient Use Air Transfer Mattress
CategoriesPatient Handling

Repositioning Injuries in Hospitals

Healthcare workers are at risk for injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) when performing manual patient transfers. According to recent studies, over 95% of nurses, report having some form of MSD or repositioning injuries during their careers. In 2021, there were a combined 18,090 missed days of work in the U.S. due to the disorder.

Low Back pain is the most common complaint among healthcare workers. This injury is brought on by the repeated stress of lifting patients manually. A few key examples include:

  • Transferring a patient from a bed to a stretcher
  • Lifting a patient from a supine position
  • Repositioning a total-care patient
  • Lateral transfer before and after surgery
  • Transferring the same patient several times per day

While repositioning injuries can occur at the precise time of a lateral transfer, chronic back and shoulder pain most often affects healthcare professionals. It is often the cumulative trauma from these repetitive tasks that leads to the eventual injury. In addition, current labor shortages mean longer hours, further compounding the problem. Also, due to an ongoing growth of the obesity epidemic in the U.S., patients are becoming increasingly heavier.

The SPH Medical Single Patient Use Air Transfer Mattress solves this problem by using a cushion of air under an inflated mattress. It helps reduce the patient’s weight, similar to how the buoyancy of water does. The result is a simple assisted lifting device that does most of the work for you.

There are other transfer devices available that can assist with repositioning and lateral transfers including patient  lifts. However, the SPH Medical Single Patient Use Transfer Mat comes with these added benefits:

  • Fully disposable and simple to use
  • Reduces cross-contamination
  • Reduces the need for laundering and subsequent loss
  • Reduces the risk of a nursing injury
  • Fewer missed days from work

In addition, SPH Single Patient Use Transfer Mats are easier to implement because:

  • The inventory is easier to manage
  • They do not require laundering
  • Single patient use cuts down on infections and cross-contamination
  • They provide a cost-effective solution for hospitals and clinics
  • Each transfer mat is made from a quality, breathable material so it can stay under a patient for extended periods

If you or others on your healthcare team suffer from repositioning injury due to your current patient transfer protocols, it may be time for a new strategy. Please visit SPH Medical for more information on how you and your fellow healthcare providers can benefit from the SPH Medical Single Patient Use Air Transfer Mattress.

CategoriesPatient Handling

Patient Positioning and Nursing Injuries

How Patient Positioning and Lateral Transfers Increase Risk of Injury to our Nurses

Patient positioning in a hospital, surgery center, or medical clinic occurs twenty four hours a day and every day. Patients are constantly sliding down in bed and therefore need to be boosted back up, turned, bathed, and transferred. In this article we’re going to review one of the most common and predictable patient positioning tasks, a lateral transfer. Lateral transfers occur in many inpatient hospital units throughout the day. Whether patients are headed into surgery or to the imaging center, numerous departments oversee lateral transfers. In layman’s terms, a lateral transfer consists of transferring a patient from one surface to another. Unfortunately, the unpredictability of this procedure leaves a lot of room for error. As a result, both medical professionals and patients become susceptible to injuries. Specifically, hospital staff are at risk of MSDO’s due to the high frequency of this task and the increasing weight of patients. Lateral transfers have become so dangerous that more constructive alternatives are being developed.

In most cases, nurses perform lateral transfers by using the sheet that’s underneath the patient. If there aren’t enough hands on deck, a plastic board can help offset insufficient manpower. However, this method is far from flawless, and it doesn’t reduce enough friction to prevent a nursing injury or repositioning injury from occurring. Strains and sprains are commonplace but more serious career ending back injuries are occurring. Since a successful lateral transfer hinges entirely on physical effort and effective communication, these practices have been deemed high risk.

In fact, these techniques are so ineffective that medical professionals are over 30 percent more likely to experience musculoskeletal pain.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses are the number one at risk profession for a back injury with an average of 7 lost work days per injury.  Manual Patient Handling injuries are the primary culprits for this debilitating condition. While occupational injuries aren’t ideal for workers, they can be especially detrimental to hospitals. Not only do injuries leave their personnel indisposed, but these mishaps can also prove costly, requiring hospitals to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover injury costs, and that’s just the direct cost of these injuries.  d

In the hopes of addressing this ongoing issue, the Bureau of Labor Statistics held a study on safe patient handling programs. Their research showed that hospitals with proper lateral transfer procedures were 73 percent less likely to put their nurses or patients at risk. With this compelling evidence, the House made the noble decision to draft the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act in 2015. At its core, this bill seeks to protect nurses from musculoskeletal disorders by requiring hospitals to reinforce their mobility, injury prevention, and patient handling standards.

The Future Of Safe Lateral Transfers

To combat the number of repositioning injuries, companies started introducing air-assisted transfer systems. AirPal is touted as the brains behind this invention and is renowned for being the first to design this revolutionary technology. With the efficacy of air-assisted transfer systems, companies like HoverMatt were eager to make this resource more accessible, leading to increased supply of the disposable or single patient use transfer mattress.

Air Powered Transfer System

In essence, these systems reduce friction while offering unmatched safety for both the patient and the caregiver. As a result, they improve ergonomics, reduce risk of injury to nurses, and improve patient satisfaction and safety during lateral transfers. Thanks to the incredible ability to reduce friction for patients of all sizes, fewer people are needed to oversee lateral transfers. To ensure that patients and staff members remain out of harm’s way, SPH Medical implements air-assisted transfer systems in hospitals all across the country.  SPH Medical is helping to make air assisted lateral transfer systems available to all hospitals at affordable prices.

Reasons To Choose Air-Assisted Transfer Equipment

Air-assisted transfer systems are highly sought-after for their ability to reduce handling injuries, but they offer more benefits than that. In addition to promoting safe practices, this cutting-edge equipment also instills comfort into the patient experience. In other words, patients aren’t as vulnerable to the unease and discomfort that accompanies traditional lateral transfers. With this modern equipment, transitioning a patient from point A to point B is seamless.  This can improve hospital efficiencies and throughput further reducing costs.

According to patients, air-assisted transfer systems give the illusion and feeling that they’re floating from one surface to the next. What’s more, this streamlined process makes patients feel like less of an inconvenience. When caregivers have to exert tremendous energy to move a patient, it can trigger self-consciousness especially for the Bariatric patient.  The dignity and care of Bariatric patients is an important consideration for hospitals across the country.  In her book The Challenges of Caring for the Obese Patient, Sue Gallagher states, “Even the most compassionate caregiver may be reluctant to provide adequate care [to a patient with obesity] because of the threat of caregiver injury.”  Fortunately, air-assisted equipment reduces self-doubt of caregivers and patients alike, bringing patients great peace of mind while allowing medical professionals to provide exceptional care.



Gallagher S. The Challenges of Caring for the Obese Patient. Edgemont, PA: Matrix Medical Communications; 2005

CategoriesPatient Handling

Keeping Staff and Patients Safe in OR and Radiology with the EPD

The EPD and E-EPD were developed to reduce the risk of injuries and improve safety among staff and patients. By implementing the use of EPDs, hospitals can actively protect their staff and improve patient outcomes.


Safe Patient Handling

EPDs are used in numerous medical settings including labor and delivery, general surgery, operating rooms, anesthesiology, radiology and orthopedic departments. These are all settings in which epidurals, spinal blocks, x-rays and Thoracentesis procedures are performed. Keeping patients safe and comfortable while avoiding injuries is an extremely important factor for every medical facility. EPDs correctly and effectively position patients to do just that. They create a sturdy, steady and comfortable place to assist in holding patients in place while their procedure is performed.

Reducing Risks to Staff 

Hospitals and medical facilities are responsible for keeping their nurses and support staff safe. Plans to keep staff injury-free include providing them with the right tools. EPDs eliminate back pain and body strain that nurses can endure while assisting with tradition positioning methods associated with epidurals and like procedures. It is important to keep nurses and hospital staff healthy and performing at their best. EPDs make this easy. They position and support patients correctly and easily so that nurses don’t have the pressure and physical load of holding patients in a stable position for a long period of time. This can cause a lot of strain and be uncomfortable, especially if the patient is larger than the nurse.

Download EPD Package Data Sheet

Download E-EPD Data Sheet


EPDs and E-EPDs are a clearly defined safety need in hospitals. Not only do they keep patients safe, they help keep the hospital staff safe as well. They help eliminate errors, injuries and accidents which directly increases patient and nurse satisfaction. EPDs are easy to implement and use, making it a simple decision when it comes to protecting staff and patients.


Contact SPH Medical for more information about supporting your patient and staff safety goals.


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